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Flexible PCBs

FPC is the short name of Flexible printed circuit board, also named as flex prints, flex circuit boards, flex boards, which are favored due to the excellent characteristics of lightweight, thin thickness, freely bendable, and folded.


What are the flexible PCBs?

In the structure of flexible boards, the constituent materials are insulating film, conductor, and the glue. The insulating film forms the base layer of the board, and the glue bonds the copper foil to the insulating layer. FCP is a circuit board with high reliable and excellent flexibility, which is made of polyester film or polyimide. This technology allows many precision components stack in a narrow and limited space to form a flexible circuit by embedding the circuit design on a flexible thin plastic sheet, which is a great revolution of traditional interconnect technology.


The main features of flexible PCBs

Flexible PCBs have similar fabrication steps with rigid PCBs, and the two often use the same equipment. But there are still some differences, such as most rigid PCBs are easy to handle, a flexible PCB may need unique clamping, fixing, or vacuum systems to hold it in a particular position during processing. Flexible PCBs exhibit many advantages in physical characteristics and manufacturing processes; details are as below:

Physical characteristics:

l  Small size allows small package size and more compact devices

l  Relatively more lightweight and thinner than other PCBs

l  More flexibility enables the board to bend to different shape for various devices

l  High bendiness and high tensile strength, easy to be warped in three dimensions without breakages

l  Stronger resistance to vibration and movement

l  More adaptable to harsh environments


Manufacturing & Assembly advantages:

l  More freedom and possibilities in PCB design

l  Better heat dissipation and solderability

l  Improved durability and reliability

l  More flexible installation and less installation time

l  Less space is needed to allow high-density applications


The application of FPC can greatly reduce the volume and weight of the end products, which meets the demands of high-density, high reliability, and miniaturization in the development of electronics. Therefore, FPC has been widely used in military, aerospace, mobile communications, digital cameras, computer peripherals, laptop computers, and so on.


Despite so many benefits flexible PCBs have, it still cannot replace the rigid PCB in some applications. First, it is more expensive, which is difficult to cater to the demands of cost-efficiency for customers sometimes. Second, the flexible substrate is slightly insufficient in the carrying capacity of the components. Then, most of the time, combining rigid and flexible circuits is an ideal solution for manufacturing purposes. The rigid boards can be connected to the flexible circuits to make their superiorities play well in different PCB designs.


Recently flexible boards are increasingly popular PCBs in PCB fabrication because they can be bent, shaped, twisted, and folded into limitless configurations. Flexible PCBs in NextPCB include single-sided, double-sided, multi-layer, and rigid-flex PCBs in PCB prototype and PCB assembly services. Please consult the experts in NextPCB for professional suggestions if you have any questions in PCB design or PCB manufacturing.

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